Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Houston, John

HOUSTON, JOHN, M.D. (1802–1845), anatomist, born in the north of Ireland in 1802, was eldest son of a presbyterian minister, and brought up by his uncle, Dr. Joseph Taylor, physician to the forces. In 1819 he was apprenticed in Dublin to Mr. Shekleton, a young anatomist and founder of the Dublin College of Surgeon's Museum. He succeeded his master on his premature death in 1824 as curator of the museum, and held the office until 1841. The collection was greatly improved by him. In 1834 he published a catalogue of the normal preparations, and in 1840 one of the pathological. His descriptions are said to be both accurate and graphic (Butcher). He was also demonstrator of anatomy to the students at the College of Surgeons for a time after 1824. In 1826 he graduated M.D. at Edinburgh. In 1832 he was elected surgeon to the new City of Dublin Hospital, and in 1837 lecturer on surgery at the Park Street School of Medicine, the rich museum of which he catalogued in 1843. He was medical officer to several institutions in Dublin, and carried on a private practice in York Street. He died in his forty-fourth year at Dalkey on 30 July 1845, from a brain affection, which began while he was delivering a clinical lecture in April preceding.

Houston contributed largely to the medical journals of Dublin, Edinburgh, and London, and to the transactions of societies. Many of his papers were descriptions of anatomical and pathological specimens; others were surgical. In a paper on the mucus membrane of the rectum he described a condition which led to controversy, and became known as 'the fold of Houston.' His chief scientific memoir was 'On the Structure and Mechanism of the Tongue of the Chameleon,' in the 'Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy,' 1828, illustrated from his own drawings. He also published in London a treatise on 'Dropsy,' 1842, and a pamphlet on 'The mode of Treatment in Fever,'&c., 1844. He was a worthy member of the famous Dublin school of anatomists and collectors.

[Memoir of Dr. Houston, by R.G. Butcher (pp.9), with analysis of his writings, in Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science, new sec. ii. 1846, p. 294.]

C. C.